Here is your chance to get a jump on NBA win totals before the lines are released. We have some win projections to assist you for comparative purposes once the lines do come out.
The 2014-15 NBA season is still over three months away, but with the flurry of NBA free agent activity all but died down for the time being, now seems like as good a time as any to make our NBA Picks on win totals for this year before those lines are released, so that we may be quick to pounce on some “off” numbers once those lines do indeed come out.
Actually one win total has been released at 5 Dimes, and as you might expect, that would be for the Cleveland Cavaliers as it was released a few days after LeBron James announced that he was going back home to Ohio. After all, 5 Dimes had odds one which team James would sign with, with those odds having very high volatility, so why not follow up on all of the LeBron hype with an early win total release for his new team? That win total is a lofty 55½ with the ‘over’ set at -125.
We will kick things off with a selection of that total and then follow up by giving our win projections for nine other teams, all of which we expect to either be much improved or much worse compared to last year, as those are the types of teams the oddsmakers are more likely to miss the boat on with these early win total releases.
So without any further ado, here is our selection on the Cavaliers win total as well as our other win total projections for selected other teams. Our projected win totals for those other nine teams are in parenthesis.
History Repeats for LeBron
Cleveland Cavaliers ‘over’ 55½ (-125): There was an immediate line shift on the NBA Championship Futures as soon as LeBron rejoined the Cavaliers, but is this accompanying win total too high? Well, keep in mind that when James initially left the Cavaliers to join the Heat, Miami went 58-24 in his first season. Sure you can say he had more to work with there in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but also remember that Cleveland still has a chance to add Kevin Love, especially when Andrew Wiggins becomes eligible to be traded on August 23rd. Thus we recommend a play on the ‘over’ here now as we see further adjustment to this line in the near future.
Look for improvement
Denver Nuggets (44½): The Nuggets had their worst season in a decade in 2013-14, missing the playoffs for the first time in that span while going just 36-46. However, Denver had a nice draft taking Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic, they traded for the underrated Arron Afflalo and they should have Danilo Gallinari back after be missed last season with an ACL injury. Add in incumbents Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried and also other players like Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee recovering for season-ending injuries and this team should return to competing for a playoff spot.
New Orleans Pelicans (41½): The Pelicans had a very forgettable year last season at 34-48, but the future of this franchise looks much brighter. This team was riddled with injuries to Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis at various times last year, and they should all be back presumably healthy for this season. They also added a much-needed big man by acquiring Omer Asik from the Rockets and they took Russ Smith out of Louisville in the draft. A playoff run is not out of the question, but for starters expect a winning record for this team this season, which would be a nice stepping stone.
Atlanta Hawks (44½): The Hawks had a reputation for being a lazy team a couple of years ago, but Mike Budenholzer was a great hire as head coach last year and the team made two great draft picks in Adreian Payne and Lamar Patterson. Payne is a big-bodied 4 that can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting and he is also a good ball-handler for his size. Patterson meanwhile may have been a steal with the 48th pick with his distribution skills. The Hawks should also be adding an athletic Brazilian in the frontcourt in Lucas Nogueira, and do not forget that they get Al Horford back after he tore his pectoral late last season. Given the weakness of the Eastern Conference, the Hawks could be nice sleepers.
Orlando Magic (32½): The young Magic actually went a respectable 19-22 at home last season but they had the worst road record in the NBA at 4-37. However, we like what the Magic did during the off-season. First, they had a nice draft as Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are both good enough to start for this team right now, and they then signed Ben Gordon and Channing Frye in free agency for some talented veteran leadership. And this team did already have some nice pieces in place in Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris. This is a club that may be a year away from playoff consideration, but do not be surprised by at least 10 more wins this season compared to last year.
Teams on the Decline
Houston Rockets (48½): Now the Rockets are certainly not a bad team, but they were spurned by both LeBron and especially Chris Bosh in their free agent pursuits, and that was after clearing salary cap space by trading away Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin while getting no salary in return. Then to add insult to injury, they chose not to match the offer sheet by the division rival Dallas Mavericks to Chandler Parsons after finally landing one free agent in Trevor Ariza. We do not expect Houston to match its 54-28 season of a year ago.
Portland Trail Blazers (45½): The Blazers won 54 games last season and then won an NBA Playoffs series over the Rockets before losing to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in five games in the second round. However keep in mind that the Blazers stayed amazingly healthy for most of the year, which was vital for a team that finished dead last in the NBA in bench scoring for the second straight year. In fact, Portland’s starters played an amazing 24.4 minutes per game, which was easily the most in the league. And Portland did not add anyone of note in either the draft or free agency, so unless the Blazers are extremely lucky in the health department for the second straight year, regression seems inevitable.
Memphis Grizzlies (42½): Like the Rockets, it is not so much that the Grizzlies are a bad team because they certainly are not, however they did not really improve too much during the off-season other then adding Vince Carter, while other teams in the West improved more, and the Grizz may have over-achieved in winning 50 games last year. This is a team that will still struggle offensively with Carter unable to play major minutes at his age, and besides Vincanity, Memphis will have four returning contributors in Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Tayshaun Prince and Marc Gasol that will all be in their 30s by the end of the season.
Phoenix Suns (41½): The Suns were projected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA last season, but instead they surpassed their season win total by New Year’s Day and they were in the playoff hunt until the season’s final days, finishing as the ninth seed in a brutal Western Conference. They then had a chance to really become major players in the conference with their four draft picks, but instead did not address their needs for a post scorer and a wing three-point shooter at all. Instead they drafted a creative scorer in T.J. Warren that does not excel in either area and another point guard in Tyler Ennis. This could be a flip-flop of last year with the Suns this time falling short of expectations.
Utah Jazz (18½): How much can the Jazz decline after going 25-57 last year? Well, this team did add some nice draft picks in Dante Exum and Rodney Hood, who join last year last year’s draftees Trey Burke and Alec Burks, and they did match an offer sheet to Gordon Hayward, but this is a squad that resembles a College All-Star team right now and all of the youngsters are expected to be thrust right into the action this year for on-the-job training. Yes, that bodes very well for the Utah future, but their should be some growing pains this season and we actually expect a decrease in last year’s win total with Exum and Hood getting major minutes much sooner than they would have with a more experienced team.